The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) Texas Section Meeting was recently held on October 5th through October 7th, 2016 in Lubbock, Texas. The meeting seeks to incorporate continuing education for agricultural and engineering professionals, allows for networking between industry professionals and students, and updates members about advances in the field. Generally, the first day allows for networking and socializing among members, particularly students. The second day focuses on presentations in specific industries where students are given the opportunity to present as well. Additionally, student club updates are presented. Awards are also presented at this time as well as any motions called forth by the committees, including scholarship funding, nominating new officers, and announcing the status of the ever-growing student population at Texas A&M’s Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAEN) Department. The third day involves tours and this year, it consisted of a peanut production and processing plant, a vineyard, and a windmill museum.
The Department had several students attend this year’s Texas Section meeting, including student club officers Brad Borges, Zeke McReynolds, and Allison Thomason and key members Ian Byorth and Conley Chilek. Students gave an insightful presentation into their industry of interest or departmental experience. The student club officers also updated the section meeting’s participants on the status of each student club.
Senior and Aggie Pullers’ President, Brad Borges, gave his presentation on “Plastic Contaminates in Cotton from Round Module Wrappers”, a research project he is working on with Dr. Alex Thomasson. The project sets out to monitor the amount and occurrence of plastic trapped inside cotton bales. The data is collected through the use of a camera mounted on a module feeder to observe minute by minute images produced by the camera. The images are then analyzed for plastic contaminates.
Brad’s update on the Aggie Pullers club showed great potential for growth. Their first meeting had a good turn-out with a prospect of adding 25 new members. The new weekly Friday workdays have yielded successful progress in designing this year’s quarter scale tractor and the newly appointed marketing committee has high hopes for expanding the club’s funding.
Zeke McReynolds, a senior member of the fighting Texas Aggie Corp of Cadets and this year’s Texas A&M University’s ASABE Student Chapter President, received the ASABE Texas Section Superior Service Award in BAEN. His presentation compared his many trips abroad and was titled “Globally and Culturally Appropriate Agricultural Technologies”. The goals of his travels were to introduce concepts to optimize technological designs, most markedly in the global food security industry. His experiences in the past two years in both Africa and Guatemala have shaped his agricultural and engineering approach to given global and economic issues.
In addition, Zeke reported that the student chapter of ASABE began the year successfully with its highest attended meeting of 70 students. National membership has increased to 40 members with this year’s students reaching its largest national membership.
Aggie Pullers’ Secretary and Agricultural Systems Management (AGSM) Historian, Allison Thomason, received the ASABE Texas Section Superior Service Award in AGSM. She updated the section meeting members on the status of the student AGSM club. The AGSM officers shifted their focus this year, with an emphasis on creating close student connections outside of the classroom and professional networking to increase potential job prospects. This allows increased interactions between younger and upper classmen, establishing a mentor-like relationship where younger classmen learn study tips, receive advice on which courses to take, and have any other of their questions answered. The general meetings and events have been successfully attended this year and have included a domino tournament, kick ball game, and an industry tour to the Shiner Brewery. The officers are currently reaching out to enlist more guest speakers and to schedule another industry tour for the spring semester.
Senior Ian Byorth presented “Efficient Irrigation and Wildlife Conservation” based on the irrigation practices in his home state of Montana and its effect on the native Yellowstone cutthroat trout. The project was largely undertaken by Ian’s uncle, Pat Byorth, and Trout Unlimited, a company that works to keep adequate water supply in streams for fish while maintaining all agricultural production for farmers and ranchers. They also work to support the water rights of farmers and ranchers to prevent unintentional water supply losses, which additionally maintains the trout population in streams. Alternative irrigation techniques include the addition of pipelines to prevent loss through seepage and evaporation during transport and through the conversion to center pivot irrigation.
Conley Chilek, also a senior, described the general process of a wastewater treatment plant in his presentation “Wastewater Treatment Process”. The presentation breaks down the treatment into three general processes: mechanical, biological, and chemical. The mechanical process removes large, suspended solids. The biological process uses microbes to break down organic matter. The final step is very effective and involves the use of chemicals to remove the remaining impurities in the water. Each step is necessary to treat the water effectively so that the clean water may return to the environment through the river system.
This year’s Texas Section Meeting has been highly successful with the most student contribution so far. These section meetings are essential for achieving networking and alumni socialization opportunities, obtaining support for career-development opportunities, updating peers on technical advances, getting involved in outreach activities, and providing input to the activities of the society. The Department hopes that this year’s increased involvement will continue for years to come.
Article by Whitney Steinmann
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